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Education. Rethought.










Riding the Rapids the Krista MacLean Story Also in this issue:

T h e M a g i c o f t h e C h i l d S t u d y C e n t r e | A b o r i g i n a l Te a c h e r E d u c a t i o n P r o g r a m S o b s e y Wi n s A m e r i c a n S p i r i t Aw a r d | C a r l a Tr y E l e m e n t a r y E d u c a t i o n S c h o l a r s h i p





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“ Whatever you put into an individual sport you get out

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the Krista MacLean Story




the Rapids

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of it,” says Krista MacLean.

Born and raised in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, this smiling strawberry blonde came to Alberta in 1995 on an athletics and leadership scholarship to join the cross-country ski team at Augustana University College in Camrose. Krista is now in her second and final year of the afterdegree BEd program at the U of A. A secondary education student with a major in physical education and a minor in social studies, Krista is an inspiration to all who know her. As she shares her life experiences, one can't help but be in awe and feel motivated to press on. “In 1995, I was recruited for the crosscountry ski team at Augustana University College in Camrose. I was involved in competitive cross-country skiing from 1994 to 1999. I was an alternate for the Canada Games in 1995, competed in the Canada Winter Games in 1999, and retired from competitive skiing in 1999 after the Canada Games. Skiing is a part of my lifestyle and I will always ski. Because I began skiing competitively at a later age than most crosscountry skiers, I had to make up for the lost time. The sport helped to make me more independent and helped me develop good social skills.”

In the summer, Krista also participates in kayaking, canoeing, and river-rafting. “I flew out west when I was 17 to go to Augustana and knew no one; the same is true when I went out east to Ottawa to pursue riverrafting. The first two weeks of guide training were intense! Long days: we trained from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. – theory, lectures, swimming rapids, rope training, and rescue. River rapids are measured on gradients (first class being the lowest grade and fifth class being the highest). On our first trip on the Ottawa River, we were on class 3 rapids. The whole trip I was saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I can't do this,’ but by the end of guide training (two weeks), I was one of the strongest rookies. I got a lot of river time and it was the best thing I have done in my life. Becoming a river guide has challenged me more than anything else. My heart still pounds before every rapid!” Krista’s heart did more than pound on the afternoon of August 24, 1998. She was taking a crew on one of her many routine river rafting trips on the Ottawa River when lightning struck. “We started out on the trip at 11:00 a.m. At around 12:30 in the afternoon, the sky started to turn black. The rain was so heavy it hurt. I had never experienced such a severe change in weather as long as I had been rafting. I had a number of novice rafters on the trip. “We had gone over our first set of rapids and were approaching our second set. These were class 3 to 4 rapids. A girl in her 30s on the trip was really worried and said to me, ‘You know, Krista, I'm getting nervous...




Krista MacLean

you feel so passionate and you love something so much, I'm not going to let an accident prevent me from doing something I love!’ If there is something you feel passionate about, you have to put it into perspective because you are still alive and you can handle it. You have to keep on doing what you were meant to do.

has anyone ever been struck by lightning before?’ I replied, ‘No, you guys, you have nothing to worry about, no one's been struck before!’ No sooner had I made this comment, when BANG, I was hit! I was rushed to hospital by ambulance and was in and out of consciousness for seven hours. Fortunately, we were just on top of the rapid prior to the lightning strike. If we had been farther down the rapid, it would have been a lot harder to rescue me. “A day after the accident, I was very sore. My muscles ached for two weeks. One thing I knew was I had to get back on the river as soon as possible or I would always have the fear of ‘what if something happens?’ So the

day after the lightning struck, I went back on the river. When something happens that is a major life-changing incident, you may not realize why it is happening to you at the time, but at some point in your life you will realize why it has happened. This happened to me because I was able to handle it mentally, physically, and emotionally.” Her life philosophy became clear after that. “My philosophy of life is if you can't handle it, it won't happen to you. The purpose is to make you stronger and to make you more understanding and open-minded. After the accident and even today, people say to me (including other river guides), ‘Why do you still do this?’ My response to them is, ‘When

“In grade 6, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. At my school, the kindergarten kids were teamed up with the grade 6s in a mentoring program, kind of like study buddy. I was walking with my little buddy, pointing out different sites, and my little buddy said, ‘You would make a really good teacher.’ His teacher was with us at the time and she affirmed, ‘Yes, Krista, you would make a really good teacher.’ “On my IPT experience, my cooperating teacher said to me, ‘Krista, you are going to make a very strong teacher. You are teaching at the level that student teachers teach at the very end of their practicum.’ This was the first day of my IPT. My cooperating teacher had asked me if I wanted to sit back for a bit or jump in. I chose to jump.” The rocky rapids in Krista’s life have contributed to her stout-hearted sense of self and her overall character. “If anything, these events have made me stronger and definitely aware of how precious life is.”

We l c o m e t o t h e n e w F a c u l t y o f E d u c a t i o n A l u m n i N e w s l e t t e r

The Orange represents everything we strive to be: innovative and bold, yet true to our fundamental role as educators and professionals. Inside you’ll still find all the information you need to ‘keep current’ with your faculty. We hope you’re pleased with our new face, and we look forward to hearing your feedback on the updated layout. Dig in!


Welcome to the new Faculty of Education Alumni newsletter, The Orange. This is our new skin, a look that reflects the changing face of our faculty and the new image we’re presenting to the community. When we started Bridges, our goal was to build a connection between alumni and their faculty. Now we’ve achieved our mission, and it’s time to look forward.

the orange

Education Rethought






of the Child Study Centre BY COLLEEN HAWRELUK

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you have come from: the minute you walk into the Child Study Centre something magical comes over you. The bright surroundings are filled with children’s drawings, writing, and research displayed prominently and proudly throughout the Centre. From the work at the little tables and chairs to the aquarium housing live crickets that are part of the junior kindergarten students’ project on insects, you are overwhelmed with the positive energy that generates from this classroom. Every student – regardless of capabilities – is seen as having something valuable to offer. There is the constant chatter of children’s voices, their laughter. Children are interested, they are learning – they are engaged. The Child Study Centre offers a rich program that provides interesting experiences designed to make children’s learning memorable rather than memorized. The project approach builds on the experiences of the children. “We believe that children need to relate their school experience to their everyday lives at home and elsewhere,” says Centre Director Sylvia Chard. “Going home in the car, going to the store, going for walks or to the playground. Children will be observant,

curious, and questioning. This program provides a learning environment where the children learn through investigation, observation, and discussion.” One aspect of the children’s experience in the Child Study Centre is in-depth projects. These are investigations of local, everyday real-life objects, places, and events. These topics are selected jointly by the teacher and students, who discuss common interests and decide what they would like to learn more about. The topics range from plants, animals, rocks, the hospital, cars, the grocery store, bicycles, and so forth. By focusing on specific projects, children develop varied interests, learn to make choices in the work they do, represent what they are learning, and develop the language to share their experience with family members. “Central to the philosophy of the Child Study Centre is the interdependence at the heart of our relationships: the children, the teachers, the families, and the community. We believe that the elements of the child’s life combine and interrelate to form a continually evolving and dynamic whole, where everyone involved is challenged to participate in the processes of exploration, questioning, creating, and learning,” says Sylvia.

“The classroom culture is one of collaboration rather than competition among children. The informality of the teaching and learning styles enables the teachers to know the children intimately and the children to draw on their strengths as they learn in a variety of ways.” Parents appreciate the inclusive nature of the program and the alternative approach to learning style offered at the Centre. They see the educational practices as empowering their children’s thinking and creativity and developing their child’s originality within the learning community of the classroom. “I have found a sense of partnership and much caring for my children’s learning,” says one parent. “From the teaching there, my children are developing a great delight in learning about the world around them and in integrating this knowledge, laying the foundation for lifelong learning.” The Child Study Centre has a distinguished history: over 30 years of excellent practice in the field of early childhood education. What was in 1969 a small program serving 30 four-and five-year-old children has grown into a program serving over 130 children. Currently the program is offered at three separate locations: the junior kindergarten program located in the Faculty of Education, kindergarten at Ring House 3

Sue Lynch, Acting Director and Sylvia Chard, Centre Director

(a historic home on the U of A campus), grades 1 and 2 also in the Faculty of Education, and grade 3 a short walk away at Garneau School. “The parents appreciated the educational practices, which worked so well for their children, that they wanted them to continue into the primary grades,” says Sue Lynch, acting Director of the Child Study Centre. “As a result of this encouragement and the support of the Faculty of Education, we were able to negotiate a partnership with Edmonton Public Schools to extend the program at Garneau School to include grades 1 to 5 this fall followed by grade 6 next year. “What this means for the University is a greater capacity to demonstrate excellence in programming for children from age three to 13 and to conduct research studies focused on preschool and elementary school learning,” she adds. Part of what makes the Child Study Centre unique is the partnership between teaching and learning. The Centre offers outstanding educational opportunities to children and their families while providing worldrenowned expertise in the area of early childhood education to faculty, students, teachers, consultants, and visiting educators from throughout the world.

Each year approximately 120 undergraduate students specializing in early childhood education work with the children at the Centre, observing their learning and supporting them in their project work. Graduate students and faculty conduct research into best practices in early childhood education. These activities provide an added benefit to the programming at the Centre and to the education received by the teachers of tomorrow. The university context is also important to the children and staff, as they have the entire campus to offer as a learning laboratory for the children. There are wonderful places for the children to visit, explore, and learn from.

Every student – regardless of capabilities – is seen as having something valuable to offer. It is not uncommon to see a parade of children, holding hands, walking across the campus. Depending on the topic of study, they could be headed for Engineering to learn how cars run or to the Department of Paleontology to study dinosaur bones. This fall the Child Study Centre is launching a campaign to raise $100,000 to enhance the research and demonstration capacity

of the Centre. “Our research on early learning needs to be extended and the findings need to be communicated throughout the networks of early childhood education programs in Alberta,” says Sue. “The Centre can play an important role in shedding light on the development and evaluation of early learning programs in the Edmonton area and across the province.”

The Aboriginal Teacher

Education “ The more Aboriginal teachers there are in the BY COLLEEN HAWRELUK

What began as as a casual conversation between two colleagues concerned about the lack of programming aimed at Aboriginal students, has turned into a major focus of the Faculty of Education. Although Gordon McIntosh and Alice Keewatin were not aware of it, the timing of their conversation was perfect. Syncrude Canada Ltd. had recently given the University of Alberta a gift of $500,000 to launch the Aboriginal Career Initiative with the goal of increasing the number of Aboriginal students graduating from various programs at the University. “The primary goal of the Aboriginal Career Initiative between Syncrude and the University of Alberta is to support programs and services aimed at increasing the number of Aboriginal graduates from the Faculty of Engineering, School of Business, Faculty of Education, and those faculties associated with Aboriginal health careers,” states Kjersti Powell, Syncrude Manager, Corporate Learning and Organization Development. “Although Syncrude does not recruit directly from the Faculty of Education, we recognize that having more Aboriginal educators in the system will help us achieve this goal longer-term.

“Since early intervention through the K-12 system is an essential lever to prepare Aboriginal youth for post-secondary education, it was an obvious area to support. Specifically, the opportunity to attract additional Aboriginal students through innovative practices such as the community-based teacher education program into the post-secondary system makes it a win-win solution. The more Aboriginal teachers there are in the system to facilitate learning and to serve as role models, the higher the probability that Aboriginal students will be successful in completing their high school diplomas.” However, achieving this goal is not a straightforward task. In fact, the solution is multi-faceted and the results will evolve over several years. “We recognized right from the onset that this would be a long-term investment — we won’t realize the benefits for some time. However, we have to start somewhere and this seemed to be the right time and place,” said Kjersti.

Kjersti Powell, Manager, Corporate Learning and Organization Development, Syncrude

system, the higher the probability that Aboriginal students will be successful in completing their high school diplomas.” – Kjersti Powell





How it all began

“At Syncrude, we have a long history of employing Aboriginal people. In fact, we are recognized as the largest industrial employer of Aboriginal people in Canada. Our commitment is to provide opportunities for employment that takes positive advantage of the skills and knowledge of all employees. However, the oil sands business is technically complex so we need employees who have a strong educational foundation and are prepared to continue their learning on the job.” “In order to increase the number of Aboriginal students who attend postsecondary programs, attention must be directed to those factors that influence high school achievement and graduation for these students,” explains Fern Snart, Associate Dean (Academic). “Initial efforts to achieve the overall goals outlined within Syncrude’s initiative need to begin in the classroom.” Currently, the high school completion rate for Aboriginal students is 37% versus 65% for the general population and the drop-out rate before completion of grade 9 for Aboriginal students is 18% versus 3%. One powerful way to affect the educational success of Aboriginal youth is to increase the number of Aboriginal teachers. It is well documented that Aboriginal teachers facilitate the achievement of these students through factors such as positive role modeling, lower staff turnover, and sensitivity to the cultural and learning needs of their students.

However, many potential students face roadblocks that can make it difficult to attend university. The Faculty needed to determine how to overcome this challenge. Over the next two years, a small team made up of Fern Snart, Gordon McIntosh, Yvonne Norton, Stan Wilson, and Alice Keewatin conducted a feasibility study that was funded by Syncrude ($108,600) and the Aboriginal Human Resource Development Council of Canada ($30,000). They traveled extensively, met with key stakeholders from many

students is what makes it so unique. “Our students want to become teachers of our own children. However, the distance, finances, family obligations, relocation, etc. make it just another challenge to add to the many they face daily in obtaining a post-secondary education.” Now that a plan was in place, the next challenge was to find funds to make a program such as this work. In the spring of 2001, the committee learned that their request for funding to Alberta Learning had

The need to implement a community-based teacher education program was long over due. Aboriginal communities, spoke to neighboring provinces with similar programs and potential students to determine what was truly needed to make a difference to the education of our Aboriginal youth and to Aboriginal teachers. The research demonstrated that the need to implement a community-based teacher education program was long over due. “The community-based aspect is key!” states Patricia Makokis, site co-coordinator for the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program located at Blue Quills First Nations College in St. Paul, Alberta. “Many of our students could not go on to the U of A for financial and family obligations. Bringing the program to the

been approved – with some slight alterations. “We had requested funding to offer the four-year BEd program on-site within several communities on a rotational basis,” stated Fern Snart. “However, Alberta Learning asked us initially to partner with two community colleges to meet the needs of their students through collaborative degree-completion programs, one cohort at each college. “Currently, we are offering the final two years of the BEd program in collaboration with Blue Quills First Nations College near ABORIGINAL TEACHER EDUCATION CONTINUED ON PAGE 15

Turn the page to learn more about the Faculty of Education’s Aboriginal programs.




Blue Quills


“A reserve is a different community with a whole different value system and different norms than a t o w n o r a c i t y. ” – Claudine Cardinal


The Aboriginal Teacher Education Program, which began classes at the Blue Quills First Nations College at St. Paul, Alberta in January, is providing its 21 education students – most of them Aboriginals – an educational opportunity they might not otherwise have received. And this is the case with the students in the U of A’s new community-based Aboriginal teacher education program.

Karen Jackson

“ I really believe what we are doing is community development.” – Leona Makokis

Karen Jackson, a Cree who lives on the Saddle Lake Reserve near St. Paul, says it just wouldn’t be fair to her immediate or extended families if she were to pack up and move to Edmonton. Jackson’s two children “are still creating memories” with her mother-in-law, who has been diagnosed with lung cancer. A devotee of lifelong learning who places a high value on education, Jackson said she faced the prospect of selfishly attending university now or taking care of her kids. “I asked myself, ‘Should I pursue this degree or walk my talk and educate my children first?’” Her son, in grade 3, earned school awards in February for academic and athletic achievements. Her daughter, in grade 7, maintains an average of 89%. Jackson didn’t want to take good things away from her children.

“Say I went full-tilt at the U of A and my kids were going through the culture shock of moving into a big city and forming new friendships, and they were not ready for that. My son is in hockey and my daughter is an honour student. I didn’t want to take that away. Why should they suffer academically when I am academically pursuing my own interests?” The decision was also based on how effective Jackson might or might not be as a teacher. “If I’m not successful at home with my own kids, then what business do I have in a classroom?” Student Claudine Cardinal, a mother of three, says her Cree culture permeates the program. Students, instructors, and Native Elders participate in sharing circles each week, providing an open forum where concerns can be expressed. Smudge ceremonies and sweats – important spiritual rituals – are also held frequently. “There are Elders on site, and they come in and talk to us, as people who will be teaching – they come and talk to us about real-life stuff. We believe in addressing our emotional, spiritual, physical, and intellectual selves, and they take care of aspects we might neglect because we are so busy working on our minds, writing papers, and taking tests,” Cardinal says. “They really are trying to help us, that’s for sure.”

Cardinal is certain that the presence of Aboriginal teachers is important in the education of Aboriginal youth.

alcohol and drugs...whereas white kids are maybe not as exposed to it until high school.”

“It gives them someone to identify with, someone who knows the kind of community they come from,” she says. “A reserve is a whole different community with a whole different value system and different norms than a town or a city.”

Students “need to feel they belong to a group,” and teachers can help fill that need

Thank You Education Alumni!

And teachers need to be an integral part of the community, she adds. “If your students see you in class and then in informal settings like a pow wow or a round dance then they might think, ‘I can do that too.’“

Bill Halfe

“We have been pushing to get our own people in classrooms. They are role models, they are part of the community.” — Leona Makokis Student Bill Halfe comes from a long line of teachers. His father taught at Saddle Lake and in the town of St. Paul. One of his uncles is the principal of a junior high school in Saddle Lake, and one of his cousins teaches at Elk Point and Frog Lake.

in and outside of the classroom, by becoming community leaders.

He agrees that Native students need Native role models, and he believes part of a teacher’s job is to be a role model. Part of being an effective teacher to Aboriginal students is to thoroughly understand the culture and its unique challenges.

Halfe has studied at the U of A before, but is not in a position to attend full time because of other commitments. “I guess I am a country boy. I have horses and dogs and animals that are my responsibility at home,” he says.

“Where our problems lie is not in elementary schools; it is in grade 6 and in that kids on the reserve are more open to

“I really believe what we are doing is community development,” says Blue Quills’ President Leona Makokis. “We have been pushing to get our own people in classrooms. They are role models, they are part of the community; it enhances the whole community. It has a major ripple effect.”

“You can be a positive role model and organize activities that get a kid interested in a subject, and hopefully I can work on that.”

thank you

Thanks to Education alumni, the renovation to the Reading and Language Centre will start later this spring. As of March 2002, you have contributed over $84,000 toward the Centre, and thousands more to scholarships, bursaries, and the Dean’s fund.

Non-Aboriginals who teach Aboriginal students are most successful when they “walk in with no preconceived notions or stereotypes and realize they are in a different culture,” says Cardinal.

This tremendous support allows us to improve the Reading and Language Centre’s literacy assessment and remediation services in the community. It also helps to enhance the learning experience for our undergraduate and graduate students. To all of those Education alumni who answered the call from a student, responded to a letter or calendar request, we thank you. Over 1,300 individual donations were made to this project.

Still, over $20,000 in pledges remains outstanding. The total cost of this improvement project is $100,000. If you have made a pledge and not yet sent in your donation, please do so. We would like to announce, “Education Alumni did it all!”

Thank You ATCO

Claudine Cardinal

Students enrolled in the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program, and are experiencing financial difficulty, will now have the help they need. Thanks to ATCO a bursary has been established to assist students with their studies.

First Na I t ’s v i t a l f o r t e a c h e r s t o a c k n o w l e d g e their students in this context if they w a n t t o c o n n e c t w i t h t h e m . “ I t ’s e v e n more important than knowing their n a m e s , ” s a y s S t a n Wi l s o n .





Education Graduate Program BY ANDREW HANON

Stan Wilson nods knowingly when he hears the phrase Indian time. The pejorative (some would say racist) term, familiar to anyone who has lived near an Aboriginal community, is used to express non-Aboriginals’ frustration with what they perceive to be Aboriginals’ inability to stick to a schedule. To Wilson, the term perfectly illustrates the differences between mainstream Canadian and Aboriginal culture and why the two can clash so tragically. “Mainstream culture is rooted in what I call ‘clock time,’ while Aboriginal culture is rooted in ‘event time,’” Wilson explained. “It’s like the difference between basketball and baseball. When you play basketball, the clock governs the game, but baseball goes on as long as it takes to play nine innings.” This fundamental difference, among a host of others, can lead to profound misunderstandings and difficulties in an educational setting. In Wilson’s view, these cultural roadblocks are among the reasons poor academic achievement is so common in the Aboriginal population. In general, the education system presents a Judeo-Christian world view – even Native studies programs are taught from the perspective of an outsider looking in. All too often, Wilson explained, Aboriginal students at all levels are inadvertently marginalized by this approach, and as a result an alarming proportion of First Nations children founder or drop out of the system entirely. “Some of the behavior we see is rooted directly in Native tradition (clashing with classroom culture) or as a reaction to cultural encroachment,” Wilson said.

Another cultural difference that can have a profound effect in the classroom is the concept of self. For nearly all Aboriginal cultures, individuals’ sense of identity is deeply rooted in their communities and the land, a concept he describes as “the relational self.” Wilson said that it’s vital for teachers to acknowledge their students in this context if they want to connect with them. “It’s even more important than knowing their names,” he explained. For educators steeped in the Judeo-Christian concept of individual self, it can be difficult to grasp, let alone appreciate its significance. This is where the University of Alberta’s First Nations Education Graduate Program

The graduate program and the undergraduate community-based Aboriginal Teacher Education Program work together to meet the needs of Aboriginal youth on different levels. Whereas the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program focuses on educating teachers, the graduate program produces education leaders who can improve conditions for Aboriginal pupils. The result is that more children stay in school, will go on to higher education, and in the end help raise living standards in their communities. Presently the program has 15 students, eight working on their master's degrees and seven on their doctorates. Its unique approach to Aboriginal education is gaining global prominence; the Wilsons routinely answer inquiries from as far away as Australia,

The program allows Education graduate students to approach issues from a distinctly Aboriginal world view. comes in. Developed by Stan Wilson and his wife, Peggy, the program allows Education graduate students to approach issues from a distinctly Aboriginal world view. It is designed particularly for graduate students with experience in some area of education administration or policy-making, or those interested in researching Indigenous educational issues. The three-year PhD program prepares graduates for administrative and faculty positions in tribal colleges, senior education positions in Aboriginal governments, administrative and teaching positions in band-controlled schools, and faculty positions in mainstream universities.

New Zealand, Hawaii, and Alaska – anywhere there’s an Indigenous minority. “In other programs you can pick up snippets and elements of Indigenous perspective, but it's imbedded in other stuff,” said Wilson. “As far as we know, this is the only program that requires an Aboriginal perspective.” FIRST NATIONS GRADUATE PROGRAM CONTINUED ON PAGE 20




God Made an


who was a teacher


When Carla Try died in February 2001, the Faculty of Education and the teaching profession lost a bright star. “Carla didn’t become a teacher as a career choice, she became a teacher because she loved children,” says Cathy Nissen, principal of St. Martha’s Catholic Elementary School where Carla was just two days into her final practicum assignment when she came down with what seemed like a bad cold. “She was so vibrant and had an immediate impact, people were naturally drawn to her. Most people strive to accomplish this in a lifetime; she did it in two days,” said Nissen shortly after Carla’s death. A 21-year-old 4th-year Elementary Education student, Carla was anxious to finish her Bachelor of Education degree. She looked forward to teaching kindergarten. Her sister Sherry said she knew that Carla was very ill when she had to call in sick.

University. “What made it extra special is that it had never been done before. I believe that it was because the people who had met Carla knew how special she was,” said Alan Try, Carla’s father. To recognize Carla’s commitment to teaching, the Faculty was proud to help the Try family by creating an endowed scholarship in her name. The Carla Try Elementary Education Scholarship will be awarded to a 4th-year student on the basis of academic standing and a demonstrated commitment to the education of elementary-level students. Granting the degree and establishing the scholarship helped to provide some closure for the family. “The University really picked up the ball,” says Alan. “She earned her degree – unfortunately, she was only a few days into living her dream.”

“She earned her degree — unfortunately she was only a few days into living her dream.”

Pictured above: Carla Try (left) at her sister Sherry’s high school graduation. In February, Sherry applied to the Respiratory Technology Program at N.A.I.T.

“She had worked so hard to get to this point and was so excited to be working with kids. It was strange for her to miss this chance.” The next day she was taken to the hospital. Two weeks later, she died of respiratory failure.

To contribute to the Carla Try Elementary Education Scholarship

At the June convocation, the University of Alberta granted a posthumous degree to Carla. This was a first for the Faculty and the

or for information on establishing a scholarship please call (780) 492-5642 or send a cheque to the Faculty of Education, 845 Education South, Edmonton, Alberta, T6E 2G5.

Advocate for disabled wins American

Spirit Award an ideal choice because he was raised in New York and had done much for people with disabilities in both the U.S. and Canada. “And as I see it, Canada is like a cousin to America.”


Dr. Dick Sobsey has received his fair share of recognition for research on violence against the disabled. But when the Governor of New York wrote to tell him he’d won the national Joseph Werner American Spirit Award, the professor of educational psychology was caught completely off guard.

Previous recipients of the five-year-old Spirit of America Award include the Fire Department Volunteers (1996), the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind (1997), and Child Find of America (1998). “I’m of the opinion that life is but a short interval of time and while we’re here we should do something constructive to leave the world a better place,” Werner added.

“It was a little bit strange,” says Sobsey, a recipient this year of the U of A’s annual Killam Professorship. “I thought, with all the stories coming out of the World Trade Center, couldn’t they find someone who better exemplifies the idea of community spirit?” But according to New York humanitarian Joseph Werner, Sobsey’s JP Das Developmental Disabilities Centre at the U of A was the perfect example of that spirit.

Sobsey, who has an 11-year-old child of his own with severe disabilities, has been working with people with disabilities for 30 years since attending several New York institutions in the early 1960s. Lately he has been studying rates of violence against

“By accepting the challenge to make a difference in the lives of others, you have helped to ensure a bright future for many.”

Reached by phone at his home in New York, Werner said he did an “enormous amount of research” to find an organization that helps people with disabilities. “I found many that helped only children, and in the process of doing research I came across Dick Sobsey,” said the retired school teacher. Werner said he was impressed that researchers at the JP Das Centre focused on helping both children and adults with disabilities who have experienced mental, physical, or sexual abuse. “When I contacted [Sobsey] he was so nice that he gave names of other organizations involved and hardly mentioned his own name,” said Werner. He insisted Sobsey was

New York Governor George Pataki in a letter congratulating Sobsey.

children with disabilities – who he says are three times more likely to suffer abuse than other children – and is currently examining the news media’s effect on rates of child homicide. In news archives between 1994 and 2000, he says, there are thousands of stories on the case of Robert Latimer, the Saskatchewan father who killed his daughter who had cerebral palsy in 1993. AMERICAN SPIRIT AWARD CONTINUED ON PAGE 15

American Spirit Award winner Dick Sobsey




Faculty of Education Staff


ATA Educational Research BY GORDON MCINTOSH

Faculty of Education alumni and faculty were recently honored by the Alberta Teachers’ Association for their work on the Small Class Size Project, which was selected as the 2001 winner of the ATA Educational Research Award. Fern Snart (‘79 PhD), Associate Dean (Academic) in the Faculty of Education, coordinated the research team for the Project. Margaret Haughey (‘72 MEd, ‘76 PhD) and Jose da Costa, faculty members in Educational Policy Studies, were the co-researchers for the project. Projects focusing on school and classroom practice, tied to the Alberta context, are eligible for this prestigious ATA award. A stipend of $5,000 is given for the winning project. The research for the winning project was carried out between January and June 2000. The U of A researchers worked in

tandem with the Edmonton Public Schools implementation team chaired by Karen Bardy (‘75 BEd), consisting of Anne Mulgrew (‘67 BEd), Susan Bell (‘85 MEd) and Sandra Carl-Townsend (‘84 BEd). Special funding from Alberta Learning enabled the organization of small classes of grade 1 students in 10 Edmonton inner-city schools. Whereas average sizes for these classes would have been about 25, these project classes had 15 or fewer students. Timelines for the organization of the project were short. Funding from Alberta Learning was made available in December 1999. Ten new teachers were hired by the Edmonton Public Schools, and in January the Small Class Size Project was under way. Special professional development opportunities were made available to the participating teachers, led by the Edmonton Public Schools and the U of A. Nine of the teachers enrolled in a special graduate class associated with the project and these

teachers conducted research (case studies of individual learners) as part of the overall data-gathering effort. The effective duration of the project was short: not much longer than four months. In the words of Fern Snart, “It took a few weeks for the classes to come together as groups, and the final testing was done in late May. So it was a four-month window. In scores on reading and writing measures, the students typically gained much more in this span than would have been expected of grade 1 students in these schools.” These quantitative findings were impressive. The qualitative studies also made an impressive contribution to the project by helping the researchers understand what was really happening in these classrooms. “By May and June, many of the students were catching fire – motivationally and achievement-wise,“ Snart said. The case studies of selected students done by nine teachers in the project lent further insight. “These case studies demonstrated the very powerful influence, particularly with these young students, of a capable, motivated teacher, a caring adult, who had time to make the learning process meaningful,” Snart observed. The Small Class Size Project was based on a partnership between the Faculty of Education and the Edmonton Public Schools. Asked to comment on the effectiveness of the partnership, Fern Snart said, “We had a very, very successful working partnership. The project had real mutual benefit.”

For more information see Related Links on page 20.

Syncrude made a wise investment in their donation to the Faculty of Education. Without

“What was so nice to see was all of the professors, and other U of A staff come to our territory,

g See our online version at



“This program is unique first and foremost because it is community-based in a First Nations College, on reserve lands,” says Pat Makokis. “Further, we sat in joint orientation for a week; collectively sharing our stories; learning/sharing about our Cree culture.

“This is exciting for the Faculty and for the communities we have developed close partnerships with,” says Snart. “Although it will be a long road, I see it as the first step in making a difference to the education of Aboriginal youth.”


St. Paul, Alberta. Starting in September 2002, we will begin our second two-year degree completion program through Northern Lakes College in Slave Lake, Alberta, and in 2003 we will begin a full four-year community-based BEd degree program.”

sometimes have done business. As the saying goes, go to the people, learn from the end, the people will say, we have done it ourselves. Yes, we are doing this ourselves (through partnerships, on our land, in our territory, for our people, collaboratively).”



Published twice yearly by the Faculty of Education, University of Alberta

to learn from us, to share our world view.” What was so nice to see was all of the professors, and other U of A staff come to our territory, to learn from us, to share our world view of our collective teacher ed. experiences. This dialogue opened the doors to a more comfortable work relationship; the staff came here to take cultural sensitivity training from our College staff. This is a first and breaking ground for how academic institutions

their gift the Faculty would not have been able to see the Aboriginal Teacher Education Program evolve and grow to fruition, and Syncrude would not have been able to realize their goal of more Aboriginals graduating from university. But more important, their gift will make significant, life-altering changes to many Aboriginal people and their families for generations to come.

Co-editors: Colleen Hawreluk and Gordon McIntosh Contributors: Richard Cairney, Andrew Hanon, Nicole Kiffiak, Geoff McMaster, Andrea Morris, and Carolyn Yewchuk. Technical Editor:


“Most of them say that in some cases it’s justifiable to kill your kid. What we’re researching is whether that has led to more murders of kids in Canada.“ “In our opinion, and I think the data support it strongly, while the homicide rate in Canada has dropped to its lowest level in 30 years, the number of parents killing their kids has jumped to an all time high.” He says his study will be published in a couple of months.

In his letter of congratulations, New York Governor George Pataki praised Sobsey and his centre for demonstrating “outstanding service” and exemplifying "the high standards of your institution.

Naomi Stinson

“Your efforts on behalf of the people of Canada and the United States who are vulnerable to various forms of abuse are commendable, including your role in training teachers of children with severe and multiple disabilities... By accepting the challenge to make a difference in the lives of others, you have helped to ensure a bright future for many.”


What ever happened to what’s-his-name? The Faculty of Education Web site is a great way to keep in touch with your classmates – let us know what you’re doing and check up on all the people you lost track of! Visit your friends today at:

Graphic Designer: Calder Bateman Communications

New Visions Photography Contact Information: Colleen Hawreluk Director, Communications Faculty of Education, University of Alberta 845 Education South Edmonton, Alberta CANADA T6G 2G5 (780) 492-5642 Fax: (780) 492-0236 e-mail:





gift to the Department

of Secondary Education In 1998 Jim Parsons established the Dr. Jim Parsons Graduate Scholarship in Christian Religious Education. After some thought Jim decided to double his policy to ensure two students would benefit from the scholarship rather than just one: “I felt one student would get lonely, that they needed to have a friend.”


Upon Jim’s death the Faculty will receive $400,000 to ensure that the scholarship lives on and that students continue to benefit from his foresight and generosity. This scholarship is supported financially by both Jim Parsons and his wife Tara Fenwick, a member of the Department of Educational Policy Studies. In so many ways, Jim Parsons has given his life to the Faculty of Education. He has been a professor here for almost 27 years, and although the Faculty has much to thank Jim for, he sees the Faculty as a gift to him. “As a kid from a farming town in Pennsylvania, I never thought I would live in an academic world,” Jim says. “I am so fortunate to have had the space here to be creative, and to be a teacher. I have worked with so many great scholars and have had wonderful models for living. I came here as a very young person – this is the only academic home I know.” Jim started his career in social studies, then also moved into research design. Having an interest in seeing the big picture, he taught the research design course (EDSE 511) for years, both at the U of A, and at other universities as a visiting professor. But he always had an interest in Christian Religious Education – there was a void he wanted to fill.

Jim Parsons

“In Catholic Education, there are many opportunities to reconcile faith and strong scholarship. At the time, there was no place for cutting-edge protestant scholarship. The Church is a great pedagogical site, but I have never felt the call to be the salt of the Church. Perhaps because I am a social studies person, I believe Christians should not fortress themselves inside the Church. We need to come out and be the salt of the Earth.” Support from the Faculty, especially from Ken Jacknicke, former Chair of the Department of Secondary Education, allowed Jim to shape a doctoral program at the University of Alberta instead of going back to the United States where it would have been more readily accepted. “It is the entire Department who supports graduate students, really – and current Chair Terry Carson who helps to provide a unique academic symbiosis. Our PhD students would not get this sort of academic preparation anywhere else. “It started as a dribble with a few students,” says Jim. “Teachers and scholars like Bernie Potvin and Barbara Rice. Over time, interest in the program has grown. As far as I know, no other place in North America has this type of program. We’re oversubscribed.” Over the years in various circles, Jim has been asked to defend Christianity. When questioned, he sees an opportunity to explain a basic truth about Christianity: “In the book of Acts, when Peter was asked by the Roman centurion Cornelius to explain Christ, he told this simple story. ‘There was a man named Jesus, and he went around doing good.’ The fact is, Jesus loved everybody. He is a pretty good model for living.” Jim was led to establish this program by two characteristics – he is a committed Christian, and he is entrepreneurial.

Mark Your Calendars Come celebrate the Art of Teaching and meet our Alumni Pride award winners Ted Harrison and Myer Horowitz. Education alumni and friends of the University of Alberta are invited to join us for a reception and lunch in the Education Centre on Saturday October 5th. For more information, please visit our reunion Web site at or call Dawn Ford at (780) 492-0195.

He saw a need for this program and for it to continue. Another central characteristic that led him to set up the Jim Parsons Scholarships is that he is paternal. He cares deeply for his students. In the early 1990s, one of his students, Frederick Mbeo (MEd ‘75, PhD ‘94) from Tanzania, had an emergency. His son had a terrible accident and he needed to go home. “He didn't have the money,” remembers Jim. “And I couldn't help.” Fred was able to get home, but not being able to

help him changed Jim. “Our students come from all over the world. We need to take care of them.” The creation of the Dr. Jim Parsons Graduate Scholarships in Christian Religious Education ensures that the program will continue and that at least two students will be supported in the program. “Two people can build a community,” he says. This discussion led to reflection on his career and his legacy.

When I asked Jim how it made him feel to create a lasting legacy, he replied, “You know, I was just reading the Old Testament story of Abraham, and the essence is this: ‘God blessed him for a reason – so he could bless others.’ This is what I'm trying to do. I have been so blessed to be a teacher, and to have enough to share with others. The best legacy I can hope for is that my children are proud of me.” Jim is also referring to his students. “Maybe, when they take my place, they'll do the same thing.”

Charitable Gifts

with Life Insurance

Life insurance is one of the most common ways in which an individual may choose to make a charitable gift. There are a number of ways that this can be done with each method having its own advantages.

Gift of a New Policy The donor receives a number of benefits by making this irrevocable gift of a new life insurance policy: • If regular payments are being made on the policy, the annual premiums are eligible for a charitable tax receipt. • While the policy is being paid off, the resulting tax credit will help defray approximately 44% of the premium cost. • The donor can designate how the money is to be used by the U of A.

Naming the U of A as Beneficiary but not Owner of a Policy

Life Insurance for Wealth Replacement

Naming the U of A as beneficiary still offers tax benefits to the donor.

The decision to make a large gift to the University of Alberta is often a difficult one because many donors are reluctant to lessen the legacy (inheritance) they wish to leave for their children.

• Any death benefits paid directly to the charity as beneficiary under the policy will entitle the donor to a donation receipt. • The estate would then receive a charitable tax receipt, which would reduce the tax payable on the deceased’s final tax return and possibly for the previous year’s tax return as well.

Gift of an Existing Policy

If you would like more information

If a person chooses, he or she can make the University of Alberta the owner and beneficiary of an existing policy.

on life insurance, or any other gift

• A charitable tax receipt is issued for the cash surrender value of the policy. • The donor can designate how the money is to be used by the University.

planning vehicle, please contact the University of Alberta Gift Planning Office at (780) 492-0332, or call toll free at 1-888-799-9899.

• A donor can make a large gift now, receive a charitable tax receipt, and use the resulting tax savings to purchase a new life insurance policy. • The children could be made the beneficiaries of this new life insurance policy. • The result is that the donor has made an important contribution to the University, the children still share the inheritance, and the University has received a valuable gift.

Brent B Y C A R O LY N Y E W C H U K

The Canada Research Chairs are funded by a prestigious federal program that assists universities in recruiting academics of exceptional research accomplishment and promise. The rigorous selection procedure includes faculty nomination, vetting by university committee, and national adjudication in Ottawa.

Brent's appointment as a Canada Research Chair recognizes his research expertise in curriculum theory, teacher education, and especially mathematics education. For Brent, the appointment marks a return to his alma mater and to a department where influential mentors have shaped his interest in researching alternative approaches to classroom instruction and curriculum. These include Sol Sigurdson, supervisor of his MEd (1990), Tom Kieren, supervisor of his PhD (1994), and Max van Manen, member of his examining committee. In particular, Tom Kieren's research into mathematical understanding and Max van Manen's insights on phenomenology and pedagogy figured prominently in his doctoral studies. Brent Davis considers himself first and foremost a teacher. After earning his BEd from the University of Alberta in 1984, he returned to his home town, Grande Prairie, to teach junior high mathematics. But after a number of years, he found himself dissatisfied with how he was teaching, and on sabbatical from his school board returned to the U of A to pursue a master's degree in mathematics education.




Brent Davis joined the Department of Secondary Education on May 1, 2001, and was appointed to a Canada Research Chair in Mathematics Education and the Ecology of Learning on July 1.


Canada Research Chair When he returned to the classroom with an MEd, however, he was more convinced than ever that there was more to be learned about learning and that he needed to conduct further research into an alternate way of looking at mathematics instruction. In the doctoral program, Brent focused on the educational implications of recent developments in neurology, ecology, mathematics, and cultural studies – specifically, those shifts in emphasis that have come together into the field of complexity science. Complexity science theory is focused on events in which individual agents (such as ants, neurons, and humans) come together into more complex unities (such as ant hills, brains, and cities). Brent's doctoral work resulted in the publication of a book, Teaching Mathematics: Toward a Sound Alternative (1996). The text has been adopted in graduate and undergraduate courses in curriculum and instruction at universities in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa, and other countries.

The following year, he published an article, with Dennis Sumara as co-author, in the Harvard Educational Review entitled “Cognition, Complexity and Teacher Education.” This article has had a farreaching impact on curriculum theory and on teacher education programs in North America. In the recent book, Engaging Minds: Learning and Teaching in a Complex World (2000), Brent and his co-authors, Dennis Sumara and Rebecca Luce-Kapler, have taken complexity science theory and used it to reframe how we talk and think about classroom teaching and learning. From this perspective, the standard elements of teacher education such as lesson planning, motivation, and evaluation must be approached in new ways. Engaging Minds has been adopted at the U of A as the reference text in EDFX 200: Introduction to the Profession of Teaching. It has also been adopted as a text elsewhere, but the highest praise for the book has come from Brent’s mother whose first impression was that “It kind of looks like common sense.” But after reading it, she said, “This is

a really good book. I wish I had written it.” Great praise indeed from a teacher with 40 years’ experience. Almost all of Brent's research has been conducted in classrooms, often with himself as instructor. Most recently, he was invited to a middle school in the Los Angeles area where the average performance of students falls below state norms. Here he taught mathematics to a class of 30 Hispanic students to see whether the instructional principles emerging from complexity science theory could be effectively applied outside of Canadian middle-class settings. (They can.) In his spare time, Brent, in partnership with Dennis Sumara and others, breeds whippets, small racing dogs. Applying complexity science theory to dog breeding and showing, they have successfully exhibited world champions and most recently won the Best Puppy in Show at the 2001 American National Whippet Club Show in Dallas.


Although the benefit of the First Nations Education Graduate Program to Aboriginal communities is obvious, Wilson is also confident that it offers a subtler benefit to society as a whole. For decades, social scientists have engaged in the intellectual tug-of-war between multiculturalism and cultural assimilation, but Wilson proposes a third model: cultural fusion. Instead of a cultural mosaic, made of separate but interdependent components, or a melting pot, in which all cultures are absorbed by the dominant one, he suggests we view society as an alloy, in which the most desirable properties of each culture are fused. ”Sometimes it takes only a tiny amount of a metal to make an alloy much stronger,” Wilson said. “Even if Canada’s Aboriginal population makes up only six percent of the general population, its contribution, if allowed, could strengthen us all.”

Thank you Alberta Teachers


The Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta offers the largest teacher education program in Canada. We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the teachers of Alberta and The Alberta Teachers’ Association:


• As valued partners in the

• As respected research partners

education and mentoring

into best practices in education

of our student teachers

The Alberta Teachers’ Association Web Site:

The Government of Alberta Alberta Learning Web Site:

• As dedicated, caring professionals in • As involved professionals on

the education of Alberta’s children

university committees and working groups

We thank you for your essential role in

The Alberta Learning, Class Size Survey, 2002 on-line:

establishing our Faculty as one of Canada’s finest. special/classsize.asp

Faculty of Education

The Edmonton Public Schools Small Class Size Study online:

Educational Policy Studies | Educational Psychology | Elementary Education Secondary Education | School of Library and Information Studies

The Orange Spring/Summer 2002  

Spring/Summer 2002 issue of the University of Alberta's Faculty of Education alumni magazine.

The Orange Spring/Summer 2002  

Spring/Summer 2002 issue of the University of Alberta's Faculty of Education alumni magazine.